24. Apr 2024

From wheat to bioplastics

From wheat to bioplastics

Partnership between Tereos (Moussy-le-Vieux, France)and Futerro (Escanaffles, Belgium) boosts green chemistry in a first in Europe.

Unprecedented in Europe, two industrial players, experts in their respective fields, are joining forces to develop a circular and sustainable biomanufacturing platform dedicated to green chemistry in Normandy. Futerro, a Belgian pioneer and leader in the production of lactic acid, lactide and PLA (polylactic acid), and Tereos, a cooperative group and a major global player on the sugar, ethanol, and starch markets, have signed a strategic agreement. They aim to create a short food-supply chain, in one geographical region, comprising the extraction of dextrose (from sustainably grown French wheat) and its transformation into industrially compostable and recyclable bioplastics. The industrial-port area of Port-Jérôme-Sur-Seine (76) is set to host this unique centre of excellence from 2027.

Tereos and Futerro have recently signed a supply agreement that paves the way for the creation of a biomanufacturing platform that will produce innovative and sustainable biomaterials. The collaboration between the two companies is based on ethical sources, with Tereos supplying Futerro every year with 150,000 tonnes of dextrose [1] from wheat starch, produced directly at its Lillebonne plant, to supply Futerro's future biorefinery nearby. Futerro will use this sustainable raw material to produce various biobased platform molecules [2] (lactic acid and lactide) and a recyclable and industrially compostable bioplastic (PLA).

The unique industrial model addresses key economic and environmental challenges:
• Reducing energy requirements, in particular those involving fossil fuels,
• A supply-processing-production loop that remains local and sustainable,
• Maximising the value of all co-products, whether for Tereos or Futerro,
• Sustainable and resilient logistics, with the wheat processed by Tereos mostly grown locally and transported primarily by river. A pipeline system will connect the two neighbouring plants, optimising dextrose logistics. Futerro currently estimates that nearly 50 % of its logistics flows will avoid road transport.
• Necessary defossilisation of the chemical market by finding realistic and efficient alternatives to fossil-based production.

Local, sustainable and circular socio-economic impact
The overall investment by Futerro through this partnership will bring more than EUR 500 million to the local area. Besides being a large financial investment, the partnership provides a solid basis for maintaining and developing the skilled local workforce. Tereos currently employs more than 175 people in Lillebonne. Futerro estimates that around 1,150 jobs will be created along the new value chain between the two companies, 250 directly and 900 indirectly. Green chemistry, circularity, defossilisation, new development paths for agricultural resources and more, this agreement is a leading light for the future of bioindustry. AT

[1] Glucose from wheat starch.
[2] A "platform molecule" is a molecule derived from renewable raw material that serves as a basis for the synthesis of many other molecules and polymers.


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